John Tiller was born in Blackpool in 1854 and learnt to clog dance as a boy. He later started a theatre school in Manchester. By 1895 he managed several troupes of dancers. Each troupe was slightly different but all of them performed the same style of formation dancing in which the girls were grouped according to height. Each troupe had a distinct personality or theme. There was the Fairy Troupe, Tiller’s Troubadours, the Forget-me-nots, Tiller’s Mascots and the Rainbow Troupe. Dressed in similar costumes they all performed high kicks, cartwheels and the splits as part of their routines.